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Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine and testing requirement for large businesses

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(J. Scott Applewhite | AP)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:59 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In a big setback for the Biden Administration Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority says the administration overstepped its authority when mandating vaccines, regular testing, and masking in large businesses.

The 6-3 ruling means that businesses with more than 100 employees are no longer required to mandate vaccines, regular testing, and masking at work.

Dr. Cameron Webb with the White House COVID-19 Task Force says they were disappointed with the court’s ruling, but he also says the administration accomplished its goal of getting more shots into arms.

“We knew this was a possibility anytime it goes before the court, but we’re going to speak up for the science and encourage employers to step up and do everything they can,” said Webb.

In the Bluff City, a spokesperson for the Greater Memphis Chamber sent Action News 5 a statement on the ruling:

“Businesses have had to navigate a complex web of federal, state, and local rules around vaccines during the pandemic. Today’s decision brings a measure of clarity, but also leaves in place state restrictions on businesses that might want to require vaccines. Like we’ve done since the pandemic began, our Chamber team will analyze the new developments in the days ahead and work to keep the business community informed about the potential impact.”

Ryan Poe, Greater Memphis Chamber Director of Communications

Local employment lawyer Alan Crone says this ruling closes the debate on whether the federal government can require large businesses to mandate COVID vaccinations or testing.

“It’s not a surprise the Supreme Court struck it down,” said Crone. “I don’t think you’re going to see a large number of people changing their policies. I think what this means for workers and employers is certainty on what the law is going to be going forward.”

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling in a tweet.

It’s important to note that the court is allowing the Biden Administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most healthcare workers.

Action News 5 also reached out to some of Memphis’ largest employers, including FedEx, AutoZone, Kellogg’s Company, and International Paper on their thoughts on the ruling and what they’ll be doing moving forward. We have not heard back yet.

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